Lady Jane Grey, the girl who was queen for nine days before being beheaded as a traitor, doesn’t instantly strike me as the ideal subject for a teen comedy. She was sent to her death by the political machinations of the Tudor court – what’s funny about that? But I have to hand it to the Lady Janies, this alternate history manages to create a situation where the wit sparkles, the magic abounds, and the ending is much, much happier. It’s silly and fun and modern and glorious!
Book: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Read before: No
Ownership: Birthday present
Honestly, this is one of the most fun books I’ve read this year. It takes a few elements of history (the characters, and the basic plot of the first half of the book), and then gleefully and lovingly tosses the rest out of the window.
Jane is a wonderful character, bookish, smart, selfish, and complex. Gifford is the perfect foil for her, but of course it takes them ages to realise this, because this is of course a romance! I have a real soft spot for historical romance that begins with a marriage and ends in love (even though realistically that’s a nightmare, I know, I know). Watching Jane and G bicker, then slowly learn to work together, is one of the delights of this book.
One of the other great points in this book is the existence of Ethians (where the hell is the thorn character on a modern keyboard?!). They are essentially shapeshifters, but the authors fit the magic/non-magic divide into the place of the Catholic/Protestant issue perfectly. The four main characters are varied in their relationships to magic, which makes everyone feel very well-rounded.
My Lady Jane is, ultimately, a rollicking romp with some romance thrown in. It’s absolutely the perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon. I’m trying not to spoil too much, but if you think you know the story of Lady Jane Grey, think again. This book is a joy to read and I’m going to be pressing it on anyone who loves the work of Genevieve Cogman or Jodi Taylor.
5 (shapeshifting) cats out of 5!